Roll credits on South Sydney DVD – an interview with Peter Aspres
South Sydney DVD closed its doors last month, following a sale to clear all remaining stock.
Can you give me a short history of the shop?
It was an old independent video store first owned by Vince and Carol MacDonald who used to race greyhounds. The store was then at 24-26 Botany Road, Waterloo, where the radio station is now.
I took it over in 1988 and turned it into Movieland. Then I moved it up to 154 Redfern Street, Redfern, and turned it into a Video Ezy franchise, as it was such a dominant player we had to join or go under. When I took it over they still had VHS tapes and I can remember slicing the tape to make repairs.
It used to cost us $90 for one VHS tape and they rented out for $7 a night or $4 a week for older stuff.
What are the highlights of your time at the South Sydney DVD shop?
It was fantastic seeing the young families and mothers come in – we watched whole families grow up. I had my own family, with my first wife, and my son Christian was there in a pram, as we were open seven days a week.
Who has been using the shop over the years?
Demographics have changed as society has changed. The internet came and competition for people’s time became critical. Sydney became an expensive city to live in. Mum and dad were both working and kids were in childcare. This lifestyle change massively impacted on our business. Now mum is at work too, she hasn’t got the energy or time to come in and hire DVDs, and children have so many more activities including iPads and other electronic devices. The technology changed our lives and social habits have changed as a result.
Vicki Aspro, my second wife, took over the shop as a Video Ezy franchise in about 2002. That’s when it moved to Redfern Street. Six years ago the landlord doubled the rent so we almost closed down but found the present place, 37 Botany Road, Waterloo, a derelict building we renovated in 2012. It was more for love than money because we were so passionate about the business.
We hired out the shop to movie students who were making a short film while we were away. The computer was making a noise so the students covered it with a blanket, which cooked the hard drive, so we lost all our data as the backup didn’t work either, and as a result we were forced to close down! In hindsight, this was fortuitous, however, because we then had time to look around outside Sydney towards Thredbo. We went mountain bike riding in summer which I loved, and then the family thought, let’s move here! Everyone in the family likes skiing!
What happens next for you and your family?
We’ve moved to Jindabyne – away from traffic and people who don’t have time to be polite, to a quieter, healthier life with our two children: Zoe, 9 and Sara, 10.
How many DVD shops were there 30 years ago?
Video Ezy had 400 stores, Civic had 250, around Australia.
What’s been the best seller?
In Redfern, action movies and the big blockbusters have always been popular.
What do you love about the movies?
Movies are a beautiful form of escapism that can bring together all generations. I also enjoy noting the different opinions that people have over the same movie. Movies can provoke understanding across cultures.